Monday, March 9, 2015

Topic Rundown: Let's Talk... Olympics!?

You might be thinking to yourself: "But Allen, while you are an Olympic nut, how can you possibly be writing about the Olympics in a non-Olympic year?"

Alas readers, for I can segue with the best of them in some quick topic rundowns.

IndyCar team KV Racing announces the driver of their 2nd car for the 2015 season: Stefano Coletti? 

For those who do not follow the European divisions of racing, Coletti is a 4-year veteran of GP2, and like many before him has likely given up on the dream of obtaining 3 trillion dollars that would allow him to get a test in Formula 1 car. He's won 5 races in the last two seasons including 12 podium finishes in that range.

So he's got some pedigree, but most fans will be saying its not a big enough name, but I say we can put a spin on that. You see, Stefano's sister Alexandra Coletti is a 2-time Olympian. an alpine skier competing for Monaco, she participated in the 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In fact she was Monaco's flag bearer in 2010.

I think the media should make it a point to bug him all season asking him if he thinks he could ever live up to his sister, "The Olympian." Just compare everything he does in IndyCar to his sister. 'You just finished in the Top 5, what about your sister, she once carried your country's flag on the world stage.' He's probably never heard it before honestly, so he might be happy for someone to bring it up.

Ronda Rousey: Great fighter, but can she fly with a pole?

With Ronda Rousey once again defending her UFC championship belt, this time in 14 seconds, against the #1 ranked contender who was otherwise undefeated, many talks have come up. Will anyone ever beat her, is she in the realm of Mike Tyson, is she pound-for-pound the best fighter, can she beat men in the same weight class. All this talk is pointless, as Rousey herself even pointed out, no sanctioning body would ever let her fight a guy, not to mention she wouldn;t do it for the implications it would carry. But that doesn't stop people from throwing more opinions, questions, and what-ifs in the mix. Not to mention people angrily defending who is better than who and all that. We now have UFC Heavyweight fighter Matt Mitrione to thank for this one, when he visited another UFC fighter, Matt Shaub's, radio show:

Mitrione: "Pole vaulters are better athletes than Ronda". 
Schaub: "Pole vaulters?!"

Now I'm not exactly sure where Mitrione was trying to go with this because its so random, but I think he managed to insult everyone involved, the hosts, women fighters and pole vaulters. Is he saying pole vaulters aren't athletic? Or track and fielders in general? I mean if I was going to pick on an Olympic sport, theres plenty out there that are more skill than strength. Archery, skeet shooting and curling are more skill than strength sports; and lets not forget that for some silly reason multiple forms of Equestrian manage to be Olympic events.

I mean, to run with enough speed to plant a 10+ foot pole in a divot and using only your arm strength, lift your body over a 12+ foot bar seems quite athletic to me; shoot the Olympic record for women is over 13 feet tall. Ronda runs triathlons and stuff to train and then grinds out and fights opponents. I mean I get that he was trying to belittle Ronda's talent, but why pole vaulters? I mean he's missing the fact that Ronda is an Olympic medalist already, so is he saying Judo Olympians aren't as athletic as pole vaulters?

Or maybe I'm wrong and Mitrione literally has a ranking on every kind of athletic feat that there is in the world, and he's got pole vaulting at 47th on the list and women's bantamweight fighter is 48th on that list. I really hope he's got marathon ahead of the 100m dash because I'm very tired of how people say the 100m dash winner is the fastest man alive. This sounds like a fun pointless task for GBS to undertake, lets rank all sports on levels of athleticism.

Any reader got a clue, thoughts?

Lastly: The 2022 Winter Olympics host decision is being made this year.

We all know about the fiasco that has become of the hosting bids. 4+ cities actually dropped their bids after asking their citizens if they were interested in the bill that comes with it. The only 2 remaining are Beijing, China, and Almaty, Kazakhstan (neither of which really give their citizens the option of saying no). We here at Grab Bag Sports have always made it known that we officially support the decision to give International sporting events to cities/countries that have not had them before. As a world we expand our knowledge of the known locales, cultures and help the world open up. This is why we were saddened by the selection of Tokyo over Istanbul for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

2020 will actually be Tokyo's 2nd time hosting the Olympics and Japan's 4th overall (Tokyo 1964, Sapporo 1972, Nagano 1998). Turkey meanwhile is still sporting a big fat zero for # of times hosting the Olympics.

So with all this, plus the fact that Beijing gets no winter (much like Sochi), and all stupid Borat jokes people will make aside, GBS has its full support for Kazakhstan... but Beijing just makes it so hard...\

We all remember their mind-blowing opening ceremony; and now for their 2022 bid, they are recoding a new theme song “Awakening Winter,” which includes the talents of none other than, f'n Jackie Chan.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Scott Boras Cares About the Integrity of the Game

On Friday "super agent" Scott Boras appeared on Chicago's 670 The Score, discussing one of his clients, top prospect Kris Bryant. While Bryant may be the best third baseman in the Cubs' camp this spring, it is highly unlikely that he will be on Chicago's opening day roster. Boras was asked about his views concerning the way baseball treats its drafted prospects when it comes to service time and future free agency.

Obviously Boras has to say he is against any policy that delays Bryant from signing his first huge contract, and all of this discussion is more about the 2021 season than the next two months. Summarized simply, Bryant can reach free agency following the 2020 season if he were to open the season with the team. Sending him to AAA for as little as a couple of weeks could buy the team another full season.

Boras knows this is not only a good business move for the Cubs to leave him off of the roster, but it is also almost a necessity. Losing a full year later for a few games now would be a terrible move for the team's future.

Although Boras acknowledged this, along with confirming that the team is only following rules established in the collective bargaining agreement, he still made a clear attempt to paint the team as the bad guys here. Playing to the fans, Boras stated the goal of every team should be to win and to put the best players on the field at all times. He insinuated that the fans should accept nothing less from the team. As Boras put it, the integrity of the game is questioned whenever a prospect is left in the minor leagues in order to preserve service time.

So Boras is going to lecture all of us about the integrity of the game. Winning a championship should be the only thing that matters. (He even justified Greg Maddux's move to Atlanta, even though no one asked him to defend himself. I have never heard a Cubs fan question Maddux's decision to leave Chicago.)

But fine. Integrity of the game. I agree. A championship is all that matters, and the best players should be on the field beginning opening day.

Here's the problem though. For that to be a valid argument, it would have to go both ways. If Boras (and Bryant, honestly) believed this was all about the integrity of the game, and that business decisions and future salaries should have no influence on today's decisions, then why not approach the team about working out a deal right now that would end all of the arbitration stuff.

We all know why this won't happen though. Boras would NEVER do that. And he probably shouldn't. And why not? Because by doing so, Bryant would likely lose millions of dollars.

Just look at recent deals signed by Cubs stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Castro's eight-year/$60 million deal signed in 2012 was followed the next year by Rizzo's seven-year/$41 million contract. Is Bryant currently in line to blow those contracts away when he reaches free agency? Absolutely. Still, those dollar amounts are more than any of us could ever need to live comfortably, and this is a player who not yet played at the top level.

So go to the team. Say, "We want Bryant on the field to start the season." Let's say eight years for $80 million. Fair deal for both sides, makes Bryant a rich man, and most importantly, the fans get to see the best players on the field. Integrity of the game! And yes, I realize this is absurd, but so was Boras's attempt to make the fans feel like the team was somehow letting us down.

In reality, the way things will work out, Mike Olt will probably be looking at his last shot to force his way into the Cubs lineup. If he comes out of the gate hitting .240-.250 with the power he showed last year, it will be a fun problem for the team to have. Bryant or Olt would have to end up in the outfield, or Olt could be traded. But I do think it's important to let Olt have another shot, and should he immediately fail, I think the team has enough flexibility to cover third base until Bryant's arrival.

I want the Cubs to win now, just as much as anyone else does. But there is no good reason to lose a year of Bryant later for a few games right now. As a Boras client, we know he is a lot less likely to agree to any deal before his free agency is imminent. It's in the team's best interest to delay that process, and as a fan, I fully expect them to do so.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Beers and Baseball Cards 04

Mike and Brett return for the new baseball season and sort through a few packs of cards, including 1999 Topps, 1990 Topps Traded, and ProSet Super Stars MusiCards. Check out Dennis Eckersley's arm, Vance Law's four balls, and Victor Rosario's hair.